A lot of gear comes across our desks here at Pinkbike. Check Out is an occasional round up of everything our tech editors have gotten their hands on. Sometimes it's products we're doing long-term tests on, other times it's stuff we're stoked on but don't have time to fully review. And, sometimes it's crazy shit someone sent us unsolicited and we're having a laugh.
POC Infinite All-mountain Women's Shorts
• Constructed from a stretch fabric with wind-breaking properties • Water repellent fluorocarbon-free DWR treatment • Zips on the thighs for ventilation • Velcro-adjusters on the waist
• Envelope closures on the leg pockets and a zipped card pocket • Seam-free gusset • Uranium Black • $130 USD • pocsports.com
The POC Infinite All-Mountain shorts fit true to size and are easy to adjust thanks to the velcro-adjusters at the waist. While they might appear to be just another pair of black shorts with minimalist design at first glance, they're actually really well thought out.
The material is durable but stretchy, which makes the shorts comfortable for pedalling and there are no seams near the saddle, which also adds to the comfort. The material has a DWR treatment to repel water and is doubled up on the bum area for extra durability. As for the length, they're the perfect length to wear with knee pads. While I was slightly hesitant to use the "envelope enclosures" for storage initially, I mean they're basically pockets without zippers, I got over my fear and I now use them to carry my phone and snacks. I haven't lost anything yet. I even put my Whistler Bike Park pass in the non-zippered enclosure and it stayed there for an entire day in the park.
The reinforced material with wind-breaking properties means that they aren't the lightest or coolest of shorts and the zips on the thighs are definitely appreciated when it's warm out. I've found them to be best-suited to pedalling in cooler temperatures and gravity-focused rides in hot weather.
• Michelin tread pattern outsole • Reinforced spike mount,18 mm spike option • Women’s specific last • Sizes 36 - 44 • $170 USD • bike.shimano.com
Shimano shoes fit my feet well and these are no exception. Unlike some XC shoes that are comfortable once they're on, but a struggle to get into, these shoes are both easy to get into and comfortable. The synthetic leather upper feels supple yet sturdy enough for off-road use and the Boa L6 dials are easy to adjust. They also don't back off as you ride so there's no need to be constantly adjusting them.
The XC5 shoes have found a great middle ground of pedalling efficiency and walkability. They have a glass fiber reinforced nylon sole and not a carbon sole which means that they aren't going to be as efficient and lightweight as a pricier shoe, but they're also going to be much easier to walk in if you do get off the bike.
As you might expect, it was incredibly easy to get SPD cleats on and in the right position and I've found the XC5 shoes becoming my go-to shoes for both casual cross-country laps and gravel rides.
Jaybird Vista 2 Wireless Earbuds
• Play time: 8 hours + 16 hours in the case • Charging time: 2 hours • Active Noise Cancellation + SurroundSense mode • 2 microphones • Find My Buds feature in the Jaybird App
• Adjustable equalizer in Jaybird app • Three sizes of interchangeable eargels provided • IP68 Waterproof & Sweatproof • 5 colours • $199.99 USD • jaybirdsport.com
Most earbuds I've tried in the past end up hurting the skin around my ears or falling out when I start to sweat, so I've generally avoided them while out on the bike, trail running, or in public gyms. I've had great success with the Jaybird Vista 2 earbuds however, and they stay in place so that I can listen to music and podcasts out on the trail without being one of thosepeople blaring tunes on Bluetooth speakers for the world to hear.
I like the the fact that you don't have to take out your phone to adjust the volume (just press and hold the left earbud to reduce the volume or press and hold the right earbud to increase the volume) or change songs (just double tap on the right earbud to go to the next song). Even if you're wearing gloves, it's easy to go to the next song, pause your music, and change the volume. You can also switch between the Active Noise Cancellation setting and the SurroundSense setting depending on whether you want to hear more or less of the noise in your surroundings. Someone calling you? A single press allows you to answer and you can chat on the phone without taking your phone out of your pocket thanks to the two microphones the earbuds provide. The earbuds were easy to connect to my phone and the Jaybird app allows you to dial in your settings and help you find the earbuds if you misplace them.
If you still manage to lose the charge case, you can buy a new one for $69.99 USD and if you lose a single earbud, you can buy one for $79.99 which I appreciate. You can have the best of intentions but if you somehow lose the charge case or suddenly find yourself with just one lonely earbud, it's nice to know you're not going to be out $199.99. Oh, and speaking of details, according to Kate Courtney's Instagram there's also a special edition "Sparkle On" version available right now to celebrate her partnership with the brand.
Fox Ranger Drirelease 3/4 Jersey and Ranger Pants
Fox Ranger Drirelease 3/4 Jersey
• 85% polyester, 15% cotton • Full garment uses recycled fabrics • Built-in odours guard • Matte blue or pale pink • Size XS - XL • $49.95 USD • foxracing.com
Fox's Ranger Drirelease 3/4 Jersey combines the comfort of your favourite cotton T-shirt with mountain-bike specific Drirelease fabric that Fox says dries four times faster than that cotton tee. The material that the Fox Ranger Drirelease 3/4 jersey is made of is incredibly soft to the touch and made entirely of recycled fabrics. The jersey also comes in a short-sleeve version and a long-sleeve version in a variety of colours.
The Ranger pants are a simple design and less expensive than any of the pants in Nikki Rohan's Ridden & Rated: 11 of the Best Riding Pants. As you might expect with a less expensive product, some of the details are lacking - the waist adjustment is quite basic and hard to use and the pockets place items right in the wrong place for pedalling, but the stretchy fabric is comfortable to pedal in and there is ample room for knee pads.
POC Oseus VPD Knee protector
• Slip-on design with wide elastic grippers • Extra protectors on inside of knee • Tested at -20°C and +25°C • VPD knee protector is certified to CE EN 1621-1, Level 2 standard
• VPD material is perforated for improved ventilation and breathability • Uranium black • $140 USD • pocsports.com
The POC Oseus VPD Knee protectors are flexible and smooth to the touch, which makes them super comfortable and easy to slip on. The grippers on the thigh are secure and I didn't feel like I had to keep pulling up the pads when I was pedalling. As for sizing, I generally wear a size large in Fox, Chromag, and IXS knee pads and these POC pads also fit me in a size large.
These are a middle ground pad, not super minimalist, but also not so bulky that you only want to ride downhill with them and to put them around your ankles or on your handlebar if you encounter a climb. They're just a great knee protector for riding mountain bikes of all kinds. While they're pricier than any of the knee pads that Mike Kazimer tested six months ago, they've been excellent so far and I've found that the flexible material moves incredibly well with your leg as you pedal. I'll have to see if they give me any chafing on extended pedals as they start to wear out, but so far, I'm impressed.